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NRL – 2022 Grand Final In Review

And that’s all she wrote for the 2022 NRL season. The Penrith Panthers finish with back-to-back premierships following their 28-12 win over the Parramatta Eels.

Panthers Pick Up Another Premiership

The dynasty chat is in full swing.

Playing in three consecutive NRL Grand Finals and now winners of two in a row, the Penrith Panthers are in the conversation for one of the best teams in the modern-day era.

They certainly played like one throughout their 28-12 win over the Parramatta Eels.

A couple of late tries helped the Eels add some respectability to the scoreboard late in the piece. In reality, the Panthers dominated across the full 80 minutes. We’ve seen this team string together close-to-perfect performances before, but Nathan Cleary called the first half of this one the best they have ever played.

Penrith dominated from the start. Their yardage game laid the platform as the pressure built on the Parramatta line. Eventually – try as they might – the Eels cracked. While Brad Arthur’s side has scored fairly consistently all season, the Panthers barely gave them a chance. The line speed and brutality in defence stopped the Eels from getting up the field. It wasn’t until just before halftime that the underdogs recorded their first tackle inside the opposition’s 20-metre line. They finished with only ten for the game to Penrith’s 39.

By halftime, Brian To’o had 177 running metres – more than the starting Eels pack combined.

The Panthers didn’t take their foot off the gas until the game was won. Ivan Cleary was already on the sideline hugging his players by the time Parramatta scored a couple of late consolation tries.

Plenty fancied the Eels to make a game of it. They’d beaten the Panthers twice already throughout the NRL regular season and matched up exceptionally well to keep it close. However, no team would have kept it close against this version of the Panthers.

Relentless. Methodical. Consistent. Premiers.

Clive Churchill Medal: Dylan Edwards

Hyped into $7.50 from $15, Dylan Edwards lived up to it all and claimed the Clive Churchill Medal.

The Numbers:

– 291 running metres
– 1 Line Break
– 3 Line Break Assists
– 1 Try Assist
– 9 Tackle Breaks
– 2 Offloads

The Play:

While the numbers are important to Clive Churchill voting, it’s often a single moment that separates one good player from another in the NRL Grand Final. For Edwards, that came in the second half when he made a Scott Sattler-like tackle on Bailey Simonsson in the backfield.

Reed Mahoney poked a grubber through from deep inside his own half for Simonsson to scoop up. Beating the first defender for pace, only Edwards stood in front of Simonsson and a Grand Final try. As the Eels centre tried to do the same again and beat his man on the outside, Edwards scrambled across, took out his legs, and rolled him into touch to complete one of the great moments.

If judges were tossing up between Edwards, Cleary, To’o or perhaps James Fisher-Harris at the time, this tackle swung the votes in favour of the eventual winner.

Stats That Matter

56% Possession: The Panthers suffocated the Eels across the full 80 minutes. We often see a team play with ~60% possession in the first half only for it to level out in the second half. Not today. Cleary’s side didn’t let up and didn’t give the Eels a chance to play themselves into the game.

86% Completion Rate: The Panthers continued to complete their sets at above an 80% clip – just as they have done all season.

2,218 Running Metres: Averaging over 50 metres per set, Penrith ran Parramatta into the ground. Brian To’o led the way with 299 running metres with Dylan Edwards just behind at 291 metres. James Fisher-Harris also cleared 200 metres while another eight Panthers players ticked up over 100.

7 Line Breaks: The Panthers constantly challenged the Eels line. Changing angles, shifting wide, playing tight. They broke them open across the field.

39 Tackles Inside Opp-20: They led the NRL in tackles inside the opposition’s 20-metre line throughout the regular season and stuck with what works to end up with 39 tackles on the Eels line in this one.

NRL 2023: Premiership Odds

The Penrith Panthers are favourites to make it three on the bounce in 2023. Despite losing Apisai Koroisau and Viliame Kikau over the summer, they’re on the first line of betting at $4.

Playing out excellent NRL seasons, the Sharks ($11) and Cowboys ($12) appeal at their price while the Sydney Roosters will add Brandon Smith to an already stacked team. We saw them finish the season strong and their $7 to put it all together next year deserves consideration.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs played like potential premiers towards the end of the season. Lachlan Ilias will be better for the experience, too. Still, they’re out at a fairly long $11. Meanwhile, the Melbourne Storm are always there or thereabouts and are expected to be there again at $9.

The Dolphins, in their first season in the NRL, are on the last – now 17th – line of betting at $67.


Sea Eagles$18




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